Natural gas isn’t worth the risks

Natural gas isn't worth the risks I'm a trained pipe-fitter with engineering experience and also a trained firefighter. After careful consideration of plans to convert the Watson Lake power plant to run on a mixture of diesel fuel and natural gas, I've

I’m a trained pipe-fitter with engineering experience and also a trained firefighter. After careful consideration of plans to convert the Watson Lake power plant to run on a mixture of diesel fuel and natural gas, I’ve come to the following conclusions and oppose the project.

1) Liquefied natural gas is a dangerous substance in its cryogenic stage and can be handled and stored only with expensive and complicated equipment. All equipment can fail. Just see what was happening in west Texas last week or in Evanston, Wyoming, this Sunday.

2) From a firefighter’s point of view there is no way that the capacity of the Watson Lake fire department could safely mitigate any larger size of leakage or fire caused by liquefied natural gas. The needed evacuation distance is so large that it would make the nearby Robert Campbell Highway impassable.

In case of a larger spill, the whole of Watson Lake would have to be evacuated, because it would lie in the fire zone in case of an explosion of the tank. In case of a large incident there would be no time to evacuate. An explosion with no snow cover would ignite a large forest fire, closing the Alaska Highway.

3) The size of the proposed earthen berm, which would contain 110 per cent of the nominal tank size (55,000 ltr.), is a joke. LNG contains 600 times the volume of natural gas. That enclosure would have to hold 33 million litres or 33,000 cubic metres. Then, in case of a leak, that is what it will expand to and then the gas will still evaporate into the air and could ignite.

4) LNG is a very harmful substance to the environment because it is mainly methane. If methane is freely released into the atmosphere it is 20 to a 100 times more dangerous as a greenhouse gas than CO2 over time. LNG is, in its cradle-to-grave cycle, much worse than coal for the environment.

5) LNG is not a transition fuel – it is only the extension of the insane fossil fuel addiction. It is also very costly in the long run, dangerous to humans and the environment, and it is a finite fossil fuel. So it is time to stop using fossil fuels. If this kind of fuel would not receive such large government subsidies, it would not be economically feasible to use LNG for commercial use.

Solution: invest money planned for this project in alternative sustainable energy, like wind, solar and biomass. This would also create many more needed jobs locally and boost tax revenues.

Werner Rhein

Whitehorse